Even in the most challenging year ever, it was an especially awful big challenge winnowing down all of that power streaming forth every Tuesday and Wednesday — yes, DC went to Tuesdays in the new COVID-era — into just a list of three, but there’s only a couple of weeks left in the 52 and this is what we always do: GHG’s Best Comics of 2020!!
1. X-Men (Marvel Comics) – Easily the hottest thing at The House That Stan Built in 2020. I can definitely make a case that Immortal Hulk is a better standalone comic; but, when you combine the full line of X-Men comics — ala the “House of X” — nothing is more immersive or high-concept the our merry mutants. Under Jonathan Hickman’s guidance, mutants are back at the top of the charts with comics– not only for their engrossing stories but how each of the lines play off of each other. The entire line is must read! – 5/5
2. Immortal Hulk (Marvel) – First launched in 2018 as an engrossing horror take on the now unkillable Incredible Hulk, Immortal has continually gotten better and constantly stayed ahead of its time in a creative aspect. Al Ewing‘s longform storytelling also continued to expand on the gamma radiated heroes family of heroes and villains. – 5/5
3. Dark Nights: Death Metal (DC Comics) – If you have been a fan of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo like I have over the years with their initial take of Batman in the New 52, Justice League or Dark Nights: Metal then you will be a fan of this multi year story. Does it make any sense? No, not at all! But the intrigue is there, and do you see a ton of amazing visual scenes we have always wondered about? Then YES! Sign me up. Wonder Woman has a Chainsaw of Truth! – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Batman (DC), Batman: Three Jokers (DC), Basketful of Heads (DC), Plunge (DC), Billionaire Island (Ahoy Comics), The Butcher of Paris (Dark Horse Comics), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW), Adventureman (Image Comics), Negan Lives (Image), Thor (Marvel), Fire Power (Image), DCEASED: Dead Planet (DC), Strange Adventures (DC).
1. John Constantine: Hellblazer (DC Black Label) – My boi Constantine is back (and already wrapped up, thank you very much DC Comics), with his main series on DC Black Label, and a mini-series running concurrently. Simon Spurrier just gets the mage, and absolutely nails the tone: premiere issue has John throwing down with the Justice League Dark, before exploring a darker, more hellish version of magical, mystical tropes (mermaids, unicorns, and the like). The art is the absolute sell, though. Artist Aaron Campbell invokes Dave McKean at parts, with a frenetic, seemingly chaotic style that absolutely corresponds to the word. It is such a shame to see this title end…but one can never keep Constantine down for long. – 5/5
2. The Boys: Dear Becky (Dynamite Entertainment) – Garth Ennis and Russ Braun get right back into the nitty, gritty, insane world of the Boys, and they haven’t missed a step. Thinking he’s happily out of the life, and living with Annie January (a retired Starlight) Wee Hughie is thrown back into the world of the Boys after more than a decade away, having been sent a parcel from the past. While the miniseries might not have as much of the acerbic wit as the more sprawling main series, it is no less welcome a return. – 4.75/5
3. Green Lantern 80th Anniversary (DC Comics) – The talent on display in this sprawling issue is too much to list. I don’t consider myself a huge Green Lantern fan, but damn if I didn’t find myself rereading this issue over and over. There isn’t much more to add that I hadn’t said when I reviewed it earlier this year. And I stand by that. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Joker: Killer Smile (DC), Batman: Three Jokers (DC), Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy (Dark Horse Comics), Ice Cream Man (Image Comics), Detective Comics #1027 (DC), The Joker 80th Anniversary (DC).
1. X-Force (Marvel Comics) – OK, Benjamin Percy has brutalized this team and put them through the grinder. Not that I’m a sadist but this year’s been crap and seeing some of the toughest or luckiest mofos getting unlucky, it really makes me feel for them. Half-a-Logan ripping through some augmented super soldiers brutal. I mean if Tim Bradstreet drew this comic it’d be put behind the counter so kids couldn’t access it. Instead, it’s in bright colors and pretty cartoony art to make the violence funny like you were reading a Preacher book by Ennis. Actually, X-Force has the violent pacing of an Ennis book if you miss that sort of thing. It didn’t let up during the XoS storyline, neither. – 4.75/5
2. X-Men (Marvel) – Hickman laced this book with irreverent WTFUCKERY!! The Summer’s home issue was Lovecraft and Mutants. While the Marvel Universe made a stand against genocidal veggies in Empyre, plunges into dark stupidity with Venom books, or did a ridiculously uninteresting unbelievable Moon Knight Versus the Marvel Universe, Hickman’s throwing geriatric botanists at seasoned X-Men and making it interesting. We meet Apocalypse’s creepy grandson and the rest of his family for no reason other than just to fight. The art maintained “fantastic”. We all held our breath after Secret Wars and saw Marvel start to lose air till he returned. – 4.75/5
3. Batman (DC Comics) – I really got tired of Scott Snyder books. Tom King got BatDad to off Alfred for a crowd pop. Boo. James Tynion came up the ranks of Batbooks over the last few years and really delivered with Joker Wars. He even has this great follow up with the Ghost Maker. He put Barbs back on Oracle duty and Cassandra “Orphan” Cane back in a Bat Suit where she belongs. Jorge Jiménez’s art has been crisp with fine lines. Batman looks like a Ninja book. I like it. Issue 104 went super lazy on the art but it was a good series this year. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: The Department Of Truth (Image Comics), John Constantine: Hellblazer (DC Comics/Black Label), DCEASED: Dead Planet (DC), Wolverine (Marvel), Thor (Marvel).
-Rob Deep Maldonado
1. Batman: The Adventure Continues (DC Comics) – The fact that we get a gritty continuation of the Batman: The Animated Series is one of the only reasons 2020 hasn’t been a complete dumpster fire. Alan Burnett and Paul Dini reunite with Ty Templeton behind the pencils to take us right back to that universe and it feels like nothing has changed. – 5/5
2. Batman (DC) – After Tom King announced that he would be leaving Batman, the book he revolutionized with Greg Capullo, people knew that whoever took over would have a big Bat Cowl to fill. Well, Tynion IV not only wore the cowl but he took it, hopped in the Batmobile and weaved us a story that kept us coming back month after month. – 4.5/5
3. X-Men (Marvel) – Hickman loves to take things we love, flip them on their head, re-organize them and then get you hooked. Whether it was House of X or Swords of X, Hick has continued to weave his web all around the X-Universe and where he takes us in 2021 is really anyone’s guess. – 4/5
Honorable Mention: Strange Adventures (DC), Firepower (Image), Batman: Three Jokers (DC), DCEASED: Dead Planet/Hope at World’s End (DC), Dark Nights: Death Metal (DC).
1. Pulp (Image Comics) – The creative force behind Sleeper, Kill or Be Killed, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies and Criminal unleashed a solid 72-page OGN this summer. Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (with his son Jacob on colors) is my chocolate & peanut butter mixed Just right. Part thriller/part pulp, part mediation on a life of violence– we’re introduced to Max Winters, a pulp novel writer who finds himself in the middle of his own Pulp Fiction adventure when he’s on the run from bank robbers, Nazi spies and the sins of his past. It’s almost a western tale set in NYC in the 1930’s. – 5/5
2. Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (DC) – Look, I’m a sucker for a zany mad cap chase story. That’s exactly what Matt Fraction & Steve Lieber gave us this year with Jimmy Frickin’ Olsen! A year long run that was filled with laughs, sight gags, running jokes, and a mystery that crescendoed into one of the best endings in Superman’s history. Seemingly unrelated story bits and bobs come together and reveal that there was a method to the madness from page one. It’s a tour of the DCU through the eyes of the one guy who’s seen it all, done it all, and has the pictures to prove it. – 4.75/5
3. Billionaire Island (AHOY Comics) – From the creative team that made The Flintstones comic way better than anyone was expecting, Mark Russell & Steve Pugh deliver a no holds barred satire filled with observations and commentary on how the rich live their lives as if the rules don’t apply to them. They especially don’t care how they live their lives to the detriment of everyone else. The art is classic Pugh. Filled with action, comedy, horror and emotional sneak attacks, he’s learned a trick or two over the past 3 decades as a professional. The story and pacing by Russell shows us once again how this fella “came outta nowhere” and started showing everyone how comics can be done and done correct. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: MoneyShot (Vault Comics), Hellboy & BPRD: The Seven Wives Club (Dark Horse), An Unkindness of Ravens (Boom!).
1. X-Men/X of Swords (Marvel) -While Marvel certainly raised the bar with last year’s House of X/Powers of X, they sliced right through it with this year’s X-line-wide event. First, we saw the mutants of the world come together in relative harmony on the Island of Krakoa, and now our heroes/villains have traveled to Otherworld — a “pocket” dimension adjacent to Earth that serves as a nexus to other dimensions within reality 616 and other realities in the Multiverse. Throw in our selected champions of Krakoa to retrieve swords in a cross-dimensional tournament against Arakkoian champs (thought lost in a long forgotten war), and you have yourself a hell of a comic with plenty of metal “scraps”, delicate romance, and a fine ending. – 5/5
2. Hellions (Marvel)- The team that no one wants, comprised mostly of a bunch of misfit reformed villains that have no business being a team. Of course, they are led by the biggest snake in the grass– Mr. Sinister. While I wasn’t expecting much from this (despite the gorgeous art from Stephen Segovia), Zeb Wells laid out a very fun and surprisingly funny book. There are some truly laugh out loud moment the mostly come from Sinister himself and make you really love to hate the guy. – 4.5/5
3. Batman (DC Comics) – In typical Joker fashion he’s going to do everything in his power to make Batman suffer, and Batman is going to do everything in his power to stop him. Problem this time, though–he can’t. But, who is Bats without the Clown Prince and vice versa? While there is the usual crime plot scheme, Joker’s systematic dismantling of Bruce Wayne made this series a must-read. With Gotham on the build-up, the road can only be tougher, not to mention there’s a new Villain in town from Bruce’s past and he seems to be able to do Batman’s job better than he ever could. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Thor (Marvel), X-Force (Marvel), DCeased: Dead Planet (DC Comics).
1. Stillwater (Image Comics) – New to the horror comic genre is rockstar writer Chip Zdarsky with Stillwater. From issue one it had me, an awesome story that read well as a comic book of course, but I can already see every streaming service on earth wanting to make a show of it. Great writing with bright, colorful, art and the perfect amount of Zdarsky humor. In Zdarsky we trust… – 4.75/5
2. The Department of Truth (Image) – James Tynion IV has been killing it with every project he takes on these days and the Department of Truth might be his best yet. A dark and mysterious book that gets you thinking about what’s really going on in the world. I love a good conspiracy tale and James makes a meal out of this story. Can’t wait to see where this one goes. – 4.5/5
3. Fire Power (Image) – Again, only a few issues are out with Fire Power by comic book legend, Robert Kirkman, but the oversized issue that was the intended original #1 really helps tell an amazing backstory that leads up to the actual #1 book of the series. Plus, for $10-15 it really is a bargain for the amount of material it contained. This ongoing series is barely getting started and already it’s one of my most anticipated books every month. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Venom (Marvel), Daredevil (Marvel, Stealth (Image).
2. Batman/Joker War (DC Comics)
3. Fire Power (Image Comics)
4. Strange Adventures (DC)
5. DCEASED: Dead Planet (DC)
Honorable Mentions: Batman: Three Jokers (DC), X-Force (Marvel), John Constantine: Hellblazer (DC Black Label), Dark Nights: Death Metal (DC), Billionaire Island (Ahoy).
-Happy Holidays Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeks!